One has to admire the chutzpah of The Sunday Independent. In today’s edition, Jim Cusack questions why the Irish media would be so quick to trust the right-wing, historically anti-Irish, British Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday. He damns Frank Connolly by association, claiming Connolly is the one behind Bertie’s recent troubles. It’s an interesting article, the more so because it employs tactics most often seen used against the Independent and its stable of writers: “Nevermind the content, said journalist is anti-Irish, right wing, [insert bad association of the day here] etc, s/he writes for [insert damned publication here], don’t read them etc etc etc.” Whatever about the content of Cusack’s article, the tactics of it are amusing in this context.
Also reported today, Mairtin O Muilleoir of the Andersonstown News is said to be buying out the Irish Echo for a cool $5 million, and will move to New York to take over the helm of the paper. Belfast’s loss is New York’s gain?
UPDATE: O’Muilleoir’s MillionsThe Rich Man With The Poor Mouth
Named as #79 on the Press Gazette’s 100 Most Powerful (in Regional Newspaper Journalism) for 2006, in 2004 the Sunday Independent reported him as the sole proprietor of the Andersonsontown News Group, whose estimated worth was then pegged at €15 million (£10.2m). In 2005, he launched Daily Ireland with a budget of €4.4m (£3m). His papers have been heavily subsidised by the British and Irish governments, with financial support most recently being reported as “€2m in government handouts” over a period of 5 years (Jul 05). Examples of this funding:
The Angrytown HQ of Daily Ireland (11 counties only) has enjoyed ‘interest subsidy relief’ on its mortgage to the tune of €134,000, thanks to the British taxpayer.
Its sister paper, the Irish language La, has been given €290,000 for “extension and expansion costs”, while there has been a €26,000 “grant to enhance the company’s management systems”.
Oh yes, and there was €79,000 to produce an arts supplement, €22,000 to produce a literary supplement and another €245,000 for “publication costs”, although admittedly this was spread over a few years.
A further windfall of €400,000 was chipped in by the British taxpayer to fund a non-newspaper pet project of the Angrytown management.
In the last five years the business has bagged nearly €2m in government handouts. Despite the redundancies SF TD Caoimhghin O Caolain took it upon himself to tout for investors offering “guaranteed” seven-year investment returns in Daily Ireland (11 counties only).
Micheal Martin’s Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment seems to have taken him up on the offer. Daily Ireland (11 counties only) is getting €18,000 a year to pay sales salaries and Minister Martin’s Department, through one of its north-south agencies, is stumping up most of the cash.
It is probably a good thing that the Irish Echo is an established paper, as the US government might not be so generous with handouts. Then again, if there is anything O’Muilleoir has a talent for, it’s shaking the hand-outs…